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  • New “SheRides” App Helps Women Fulfill Rebbe’s Directive

    SheTaxis — SheRides, a new livery service starting Sept. 16 in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island will offer female drivers exclusively, for female riders, according to its founder. It will take requests for rides through an app to be released this week ● What does the Rebbe say about it? ● Full Story

    On Shabbos Parshas Noach 5751, during the Shabbos Farbrengen, the Rebbe said:

    In recent years, the trend in society at large appears to be turning toward this approach. This positive direction should be enhanced even further, for the nature of the advances women have made in society has created both new difficulties and new solutions to them. For example, since a woman’s sphere of influence has been extended beyond her home and family, she often needs to travel in a taxi alone. Were she to travel with a male driver, questions might arise concerning the prohibition of yichud (being alone with a person of the opposite sex). At any rate, a certain measure of modesty is no doubt compromised in such a trip. Nevertheless, the very phenomenon which creates the difficulty — the wider and different role women are taking in our society — often offers a solution. In the instance mentioned above, it is possible to travel with a woman taxi driver. Even if it takes a little longer to find or order such a driver, it is preferable to make such a sacrifice, in order to develop the dimension of tzniyus and inwardness spoken of above.

    Yesterday, a New York company has decided to make this available to women around New York City, as reported by Winnie Hu / New York Times:

     

    New Yorkers can already choose from yellow taxis, green cabs or black livery cars. They can tap a smartphone app for a ride, or simply stick out an arm. They can pay with cash or credit.

    Now there is one more option: a female driver.

    A new livery service starting Sept. 16 in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island will offer female drivers exclusively, for female riders, according to its founder. It will take requests for rides through an app…

    The service will be called SheTaxis — SheRides in New York City because of regulations barring it from using “taxi” in its name — and aims to serve women who may feel uncomfortable being driven by men, or who simply prefer the company of other women. The app will ask potential riders if there is a woman in their party. If not, they will be automatically redirected to other car services.

    The app will be available only through Apple, starting on Sept. 16 and will eventually be made available for Android devices.

    “Perfect idea,” declared Gretchen Britt, 51, a school clerk in Manhattan who uses cabs and livery cars three to four times a month, always driven by men. “You feel safer and more comfortable with a woman.”

    It got a nod from one Bronx man, Gibson Pierrelouis, 22, even though he was told he could not use the service himself. That was fine, he said. He wanted it for his six sisters.

    The women’s livery service was started by Stella Mateo, a mother of two daughters, who said that she could have used a female driver to help shuttle them to soccer, field hockey, basketball and gymnastics practices when they were growing up. Ms. Mateo’s husband, Fernando, is the founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, an industry group representing 30,000 taxi and livery drivers.

    Ms. Mateo said she also saw her service as a way to help women join an industry that has long been dominated by men.

    Of New York City’s 59,999 for-hire drivers of livery cars, green cabs, limousines and luxury sedans, only 2,952 of them, or 5 percent, are women, according to city data. Even fewer women drive yellow cabs: 574 out of 51,874 drivers, or 1 percent.

    The new women’s service comes as the livery industry has become safer, in part, because of required measures, such as bullet-resistant partitions and security cameras in cars. During the 1990s, dozens of drivers were killed in a single year and many more assaulted or robbed. Even so, it can still be dangerous for men and women alike, as underscored last month by the fatal carjackings involving two male livery drivers in the Bronx.

    Miriam Malave, 54, a livery driver in Brooklyn for three decades, said she gets more requests than she can handle, often from Hasidic women in Williamsburg who will only ride with women. Even so, she said, she continues to face discrimination from male drivers who tell her: “This is a man’s job. Go home and cook.”

    SheTaxis will partner with existing livery companies to provide the rides at competitive rates, Ms. Mateo said. SheTaxis, which has a staff of six, has already recruited 50 female drivers, ranging in age from 21 to 70. The service will collect fares through its app, using credit or debit cards, and then send payments to the drivers. “I have a lot of friends, they think it’s dangerous picking up guys in the street,” said Stephanie Rodriguez, 21, a college student who earns about $700 a week driving a livery car in the Bronx.

    Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission, said she saw it as another amenity for riders: “As with so many service industries, the for-hire vehicle industry continues to get more and more specialized in terms of the products and services it offers.”

    Ms. Mateo said she envisions the livery service expanding to Washington, Miami, Chicago and other cities during the next year. Similar women’s driving services exist in other countries, including India.

    At a recent lunch in Manhattan, more than a dozen livery company owners and their representatives welcomed the women drivers, with several noting that women tended to be their best employees. “We can recruit more women and provide better service to the community,” said Jose Viloria, the owner of Elegante car service, where currently only 10 of the 350 drivers are women.

    Cristina Velos, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, said she decided to become a livery driver after 17 years as a hotel housekeeper, earning $25 an hour. “I think there’s more opportunity,” said Ms. Velos, 42. “You have more time for family. You feel more comfortable. You never have a supervisor.”…

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